Updated: Jun 2
For a long time pursuing an MBA was a common choice mostly for people already in the corporate world. However, as industries and the ways we work have developed, folks from a range of backgrounds have begun to seek out MBA programs as valuable career steps. You may have friends, family members, or other contacts who’ve started pursuing an MBA, or you may be considering one yourself.
So, why is an MBA becoming so popular? What can you do with the degree anyway?
Reasons to Get an MBA
Especially in recent years, students enter MBA programs with a range of goals. Sometimes, an MBA is a jumping off point for a young professional; other times, it marks a career shift. MBA programs, generally, are most commonly used for the following:
1. Accelerate Your Career Growth
An MBA is a great opportunity to build technical expertise and other skills which will make you a more valuable employee for your current employer. By completing an MBA, you’ll often become eligible for promotions and new work responsibilities at your place of work.
2. Transition into a New Field
Another common reason for pursuing an MBA is to transition into a new field. Most MBA programs include internships, class projects, and other networking opportunities to help build experience in various industries. Paired with recruiting partnerships at major employers, MBA programs allow students to secure jobs in brand new industries that better fit their personal interests and goals.
3. Start Something New
One other increasingly popular reason to get an MBA is to start a new venture. Not only do students benefit from learning about business structures during an MBA, but many schools also have a wide variety of entrepreneurship resources for their students, from pitch competitions to investor networking to funding opportunities. Students also benefit from the network of like-minded individuals to crowdsource information from and even find potential business partners.
Common areas of study and roles for MBAs
While MBA programs have grown increasingly diverse, there are still a number of common industries and roles that MBAs pursue with their degrees. If you’re looking for a job in one of these industries, an MBA would be a great stepping stone for you. Some of the most common industries that MBA earners might enter into are:
Finance - Investment Bankers
Investment Bankers put in long hours going through spreadsheets and financial information to help ensure their clients and partners make sound financial decisions. Different roles can include helping either pre or post client deals as well as working on new investment funds.
One example of an Investment Banker is Hannah Ong, a University of Michigan Ross School of Business ‘22 MBA candidate who will be working at Barclay’s after she graduates in 2022.
Marketing - Brand Managers
Combining a clear understanding of both product offering and customer interest, Brand Managers typically focus on one specific line of products, or ‘brand,’ within an organization. They’ll design campaigns, review product development, and ultimately help ensure the product is a success, from established options to introduction of new products.
Jacqueline Trager, a Class of ‘22 Ross MBA, interned with PepsiCo and Google and will continue to use her degree by working in brand management.
Operations - Supply Chain Manager
Often relying on a strong technical background and head for numbers, Supply Chain Managers oversee all the different links, or suppliers, in a company’s supply chain. Especially for individuals interested in sustainability, supply chain operations offers a great opportunity to pursue more sustainable suppliers and methods throughout an organization’s overall production process.
Yale School of Management graduate Divya Kapur is currently using her MBA as a Supply Chain Innovation program manager at Amazon.
Strategy - Consultants
Consultants provide business guidance and solutions to different clients throughout their tenure, working with teams on a project by project basis to fulfill specific client needs. Consultants can either provide general strategic support or can specialize in specific industries and functions over the course of their careers.
An example of Strategy Consultants are Crimson’s very own Postgrad Consulting Strategists!
Technology - Product Managers
Product Managers work closely with design teams, system engineers, and system users to help create new digital tools and offerings. Acting as a liaison between technical teams and business users, Product Managers collaborate with all key team members to develop new systems, update existing systems, and otherwise oversee new technical product offerings.
Ross MBA graduate Chiedozie Eric Okafor is an example of a product manager who’s spent the last several years working at Dell Technologies.
While the above are some common examples of the types of roles people pursue with their MBAs, there are many other paths people take with their MBAs. Furthermore, most of these roles can be found across many different industries, like automotive, consumer goods, manufacturing, start ups, healthcare, policy, and more; this means that students can often leverage their degrees to find a role they like within an industry they care about. Different MBA programs offer specialties in these roles and industries as well, so you can also use an MBA to build specific industry knowledge beyond general business education.
What if I have an untraditional background?
One of the biggest benefits of pursuing an MBA is the diverse network of classmates you’ll meet during the program. For this reason, MBA programs highly value recruiting students from all different backgrounds, such as nonprofit organizations, military and government positions, and technical engineering and healthcare roles. Programs also focus on teaching universally applicable skills like leadership development and organizational strategy that will benefit students no matter where they go after graduation.
If you’re particularly interested in an MBA program with a lot of different student areas of expertise, look for schools that offer dual degree options and the opportunity to pursue classes outside of your business curriculum. You can also pair your MBA with a second masters degree if you’d like to specialize within both areas. Some common dual degree options to pair with an MBA include sustainability, public policy, and healthcare management.
Ultimately, especially if your career goals include managing teams, running a business, or simply transitioning into doing something new, an MBA can help you build new skills and a professional network to help you achieve your goals.
If you think an MBA could be the right step for you but aren’t sure where to start or what to do next, reach out to a Crimson Academic Advisor today to discuss your goals and next steps.